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Bendigo's 2002 branch expansion begins in Canberra

24 January 2002 |Media centre

The launch of Bendigo Bank's first Canberra branch today signals the beginning of a network expansion expected to see more than 30 new Bendigo branches open in 2002.

During the next 12 months, Bendigo is scheduled to open 10 company-owned branches and at least 23 Community Bank branches.

The main focus will be on new markets in Sydney (five company-owned and five community-owned branches) and Canberra (two Community Banks plus further corporate branches), with further expansion in Queensland (at least three corporate branches) where Bendigo merged with First Australian Building Society in 2000.

Bendigo Bank general manager of retail Greg Gillett said the bank had just appointed experienced banker Craig Newham its first regional manager for NSW and the ACT.

"Strong Community Bank activity, plus the success of our company-owned branches in southern NSW and our mobile banking operation in the ACT, indicates there is a strong demand for the Bendigo style of banking.

"Craig's role will be two-fold - to identify and implement new branch locations and to develop business in the dozen or so branches we currently support.

"We will double our branch representation within a year, marking a clear escalation of our commitment to NSW and the ACT."

Mr Gillett said today's opening of Canberra's first company-owned branch, by ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, reinforced Bendigo's commitment to introduce its unique style of banking throughout Australia.

"Today we have 138 company-owned and 55 community-owned branches throughout the nation. This time next year we expect our branch network to have increased by at least 33 branches," Mr Gillett said.

With 200 branches now in its sights, Bendigo Bank has come a long way from the 74 predominantly Victorian branches we operated when converting to a bank in 1995.

"There is a strong demand Australia-wide for the Bendigo style of customer and community-focused banking and increasing our branch presence is in line with our philosophy to let customers choose their preferred method of banking - face-to-face or electronic.

"We now have an excellent electronic banking platform and a variety of face-to-face options, ranging from agencies and in-stores through to Community Bank branches and our own branches. This means we can offer communities the banking solution most appropriate to their needs while growing our network in an orderly and capital-efficient way."

Mr Gillett said Bendigo's move into Canberra would be complemented by Community Bank campaigns currently underway in Wanniassa and Calwell.

These communities raised more than one million dollars in shareholder pledges and are determining whether to proceed to open branches based on the results of recent feasibility studies.

"Experience elsewhere shows us that when company-owned and Community Bank branches are in proximity both benefit and we expect that to be the case in the ACT," Mr Gillett said.

Bendigo Bank is Australia's only regionally-based bank and serves more than 600,000 customers.

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